Fly Fishing Traditions

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Perry Poke Positioning Cast

As you advance with spey casting you will continue to spent time "Warming Up" using the roll cast with it's waterborne anchor or the "Switch Cast" with an airborne anchor. Both of these casts end with the "Forward Stroke" which needs to be grooved as it is part of every spey cast. An exception to this is the "Perry Poke" cast. It is a re-positioning cast and does not have a forward stroke, unless you call dumping the line a forward stroke. You'll see what I mean as you continue to the "How To".

The Perry Poke was named after Karl Perry who popularized this cast. The “Perry Poke” is a re-positioning cast that allows you to re-position your line to use some of the straight line casts like the “Roll Cast” and the “Switch Cast.” You can also use it with a "Single Spey" cast.

The “Perry Poke” is an upstream shoulder cast. For a right handed caster this would be from river left. The river would be flowing from the right to the left with the bank behind you. The “D Loop” will be placed on the upstream side. This cast is best utilized with an upstream wind or no wind. The “Perry Poke” is a Sustained Anchor Cast.

As with most casts you can use this cast from opposite side of the river,river right, with a "Kackhanded Cast" which for a right handed caster is with the right hand at the top of the grip and the "D Loop" set over the left, upstream shoulder.

The cast works well with short “Skagit Heads” of about 27 feet in length or with "Scandi Heads".

First Stage. The first stage of the “Perry Poke” is the hang-down.

(1) Make sure you have a nice taught connection.
(2) Strip your running line back in to the belly or the head before Step Two, the pickup.
(3) Set your feet in the direction that you want to target your cast.
(4) Turn your hips and shoulders to face the line at the hang-down.
(5) Gather line and drop the rod tip down.

Second Stage - Step two is the pickup.

(1) This step is where you pick up the line to place it in the secondary position. The important movement is the lifting of the rod vertically up and not swinging. They line travels quite close to the body. It is a nice smooth operation.
(2) Raise the rod tip to the vertical position and over your upstream shoulder.
(3) The line should place the anchor point right in front of you, slightly downstream from your position.

Third Stage - Step three is the throw down for the “Set”. It is a relaxed dropping of the line. You want the line to drop in a crumpled pile. It looks messy but the line on the water will give the power for the forward cast.
The crumpled pile should be under your rod tip.
Note: a common mistake is to push the throw down out and away from your position.

Stage Four - Step Four is the sweep combined with the “Forward Casting Stroke”.

The important part of the sweep is to take the rod path upstream and outside of where the line is laying.

(1) The sweep brings the rod tip around and upstream in a slightly inclining plane to the point behind you where the sweep up begins.
(2) Go out and around with the rod tip then you do the “Turn Over” which is the rotation of the rod into a vertical plane to prepare for the “Forward Stroke”.
(3) The stroke path is very similar to a single handed “Belgian Cast”.


The Perry Poke is a causual cast the you can use to re-position your line to use a simple "Roll Cast" or a "Switch Cast". It can be combined with other more advanced casts too.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Switch Rod Workshop Perspective

I just have to admit that I was a little apprehensive going into the two switch rod workshops that took place in the last 3 weeks. This was a big step for me, it's what I've really wanted to do, hands on teaching, and to me this was my final test. The attendees of the workshops were mostly faces that I knew, people that are die hard fly fishermen, people that I am friends with and the new faces, friends for the future. I've done many small classes and clinics in the past but this was just bigger. I was originally seeking help for the workshop but that didn't pan out due a personal issue. I decided I'd just move forward and make it happen.

So what did I do? I practiced what I was going to teach, I made frequent trips down to the Lower Yuba and worked on double handed casting techniques. the practice casts, like the roll and switch cast, the spey casts, double spey, single spey, snap T, snap Z, the perry poke, the snake roll. Essentially what anyone that wants to be a proficient two handed caster should do.

I wrote three switch rod booklets to handout to the attendees of the workshops. One on the gear you'll need, rods, lines, heads and such. The second on the practice and spey casts that you'll want learn to use a two handed rod effectively. The third on switch rod tactics and and flies you may want to add to your arsenal. These are like term papers to me, this is how I learn. It is the application of studying something, letting it sink in and then composing that information and assimilating it onto paper. It works for me. What I learn can then be passed on to others, this is what teaching is all about.

I contacted our Sage, Rio and Redington rep, Jaime Lyle, and asked if I could borrow a couple of switch rods where I was short. Jaime responded by sending me six. Six rods with reels, lines, heads and tips. I can't thank Jaime enough. Not only did this give me ample rods to use, but it made it possible for the workshop attendees to sample different rods matched with different lines.

The workshops went, I think anyway, better than I had imagined. A bounty of information was shared, with good food, and camaraderie and I think the best thing is that a bunch of fires were lit to continue the learning process of using switch rods and spey casting.

Once again I want to thank Jaime Lyle, Frank Rinella, Mike Williams and Blake Larsen for their encouragement and support.

Keep on Switching

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Switch and Spey Casting Primer - Shooting Line - Coils vs. Loops

When shooting line with a switch or a spey rod here's a couple of tips from

(1) Hold loops of descending size. Long casts require that you hold multiple loops of line – you’ll have a hard time shooting 40 feet of running line if it’s dragging below you in a single loop on the water. As you strip in your running line after a cast, count your strips and hang on to the line in descending counts. A simple pattern for a cast that shoots 7 strips worth of line might be to count 4 strips, hold a loop, count 3 strips, hold a loop, and then make a cast. Holding a couple of the same length is OK, but for some reason that our brains are too small to figure out, loops of ascending size tend to tangle. One pattern for a mega-cast might be 5-5-4-3. Many anglers have their own pattern that works well for them, but just make sure your loops are of the same or descending size.

(2) Hold loops, not coils. If each time you hold a loop, you place it in the same direction on your hand (e.g. front to back), you wind up with coils of line that that tend to tangle more. Instead, use an old climber’s trick and alternate the direction that you hold your loops – pass the first one front to back across your hand, the next one back to front, the next one front to back, etc. This will result in loops that lay cleanly across your hand, and are again much less likely to tangle.

Here's'a You Tube Video from which shows the "Loop Method" as opposed to the "Coil Method". In this video it explains why the "Loop Method" is good and the "Coil Method" is bad.

Get out and practice this "Loop Method" and your distance will improve.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Switch and Spey Casting Primer - Shooting Line

When selecting the option of using a running line with either Skagit heads or Scandi Heads the question will soon filter into your brain "How do I shoot more line? How do I gather and hold line to prepare to shoot it.

When fishing with a switch or spey rod, the ability to shoot line into your cast becomes critical in reaching common fishing distances. Line tangling on the shoot, or being ripped off the surface of the water will seriously effect your casting. To maximize your casting distance, a simple line management strategy must be used.

One basic technique for managing your extra line in using the pinky finger of your lower hand. Once you practice this for a while it should become second nature.

How to Do It
Here's a step by step line management system that I found at Get out on the river and practice this system and hopefully your casts will be furling out further.

Once your swing is complete with your line on the dangle, take 4 or 5 good strips and place the line over your little finger as shown. You should naturally be holding the rod with your upper hand, but the loops must be held in your lower hand for this to work properly.

With the line still trapped under your pinky, take 3 or 4 more strips. It's important that you make one less strip than the first time, so that your loops of line are getting progressively smaller.

Place the line over your little finger again and trap it. You should now have 2 large loops of line with the bottoms of the loops dangling in the water. It's important that the loops are not too short. Having the line touching the water helps keep them from tangling.

You can continue to strip and create loops until the lines head has reached the tip of the rod. Just remember to make the loops progressively smaller.

Now form a ring with your thumb and index finger of your line (or under) hand.

Grip low on the rod using only your thumb and index finger. Your remaining fingers should be free.

As you wind up for the cast, you can see how the line is hanging in loops off the pinky and is well clear of the reel, rod butt, or any other potential tangles.

Once you stop the rod on the forward cast, open up your little finger to release the line.

You can see how the line is pulled off your fingers in tangle free loops, greatly increasing your casting distance.

Let'er Rip!